Monday, January 16, 2017

Metal Monster Manual Monday - Volume 2

Continuing a weekly series of posts wherein I share several album covers (mostly by death metal bands!) as brainfood for encounters in your tabletop RPG. Expect this every Monday!

Can you say "adventure location"?
Anyway, there's a ton of interesting things going on here!
In the far background, there are several pyramids, temples, and/or fortresses, some looking like they were built BEFORE the water entered this area (i.e. their foundations are submerged, and their depths likely drowned). What civilization built such wonders? When (and WHY) did the water come to wash it all away? What now lurks on the lightless, airless depths of these structures?
In the middle background, there is a broken bridge and a large, stair-encumbered building with a MASSIVE MALEVOLENT TREE growing on and over it. What caused this HUGE, MALICIOUS vegetable to grow there? (Is it itself SENTIENT? What does it want? Why does it reach for the sun as if to devour it? What does it guard in the large building's depths? What would it do to a party of humanoids that approach it?) Secondly, that broken bridge would be an AWESOME scene for a battle, full of peril from falling over its low-railed sides or crumbling through its precarious masonry. (What horrors might crawl from that pyramid on the left to confront a party of passing adventurers as they struggle over the treacherous bridge?)
In the near background, there's another bridge (with a claw-like structure similar to the ones festooning the former on its gatehouse) and a surprisingly-intact squarish temple merging with the jungle. Which was first, the jungle or the temple? Has the jungle won its way INSIDE, and what has it spawned in the numinous dark of the religious structure?
Finally, in the foreground, is an AWESOME-LOOKING sarcophagus made of some sort of glass or crystal (stahlrim?). What lies within? (Or, perhaps, what LIVES within?) What would happen were the sarcophagus cracked or opened? (CAN it even be cracked or opened by mundane means?)
Anyway, ohmygosh, you could totally run a short campaign with JUST THIS ONE IMAGE. Seriously, it's LOADED.
(Check out the band itself, too. Rivers of Nihil has been doing some cool stuff lately.)

Three main things arrest my interest in this cover.
1) The aurora itself, obviously. It's got people in it. So, in your game world, WHO manifests in the aurora? Noble saints? Ghosts of the departed? Angels? Demons? Dancing gods? A celestial hunting party? Incorporate the aurora (and its denizens) into at least one religion in your game world!
2) That bell. Like, seriously, massive hunks of shaped metal don't just TURN UP on random frozen shores. Is the building that the bell from behind the viewer's perspective? Did it sink beneath the waves? (Why didn't the bell suffer the same fate? Is it MAGICAL? What strange properties does it possess? What otherworldly effects manifest when it is rung?)
3) There's a strange-looking geographical feature on the far side of that bay or fjord - it looks like a hole. Or a massive eye. (If a hole, where does it lead? What lies beneath the glacial ridge in the background? If an eye, WHAT IS LOOKING AT YOU?)

Alright, time for the BOSS BATTLE:

PUTRID CROWN (Parasitic Extirpation)
Ohmygosh, this thing looks COOL. (Also drop-dead lethal. But COOL.)
So, what is it? It looks vaguely vegetable, from the thorns, bark-like texture, and verdant color. (Skyrim spriggan?) Is it some vengeful, bloodthirsty nature spirit? Or, a blighted tree that has gained sentience and now desires only to destroy?
Taking a cue from the album title, it seems to be wearing a crown. Did the crown warp this creature into its current state? Who made the crown? What would it do to a player character who decides to wear it?
What's with the spackling and blurring at its edges? Is it somehow coming apart? Or spewing spores or insectile assailants? (In tactical terms, that's an area effect that either inflicts direct damage or a malevolent status effect!)
Why is it chained? (I mean, besides the fact that it's OBVIOUSLY DANGEROUS?) Like, why would something want to keep this around? Is it a prisoner? A guardian? (Probably a guardian. Guarding that cave off to the left of the image.)
Why does it collect skulls? (Intimidation? Currency? Source of power? Or, was it directed to by something... else?)
If this is what you find OUTSIDE the dungeon (cave), what the jank kind of madness will you find INSIDE?

How would YOU use any/all of these monsters, encounters, and scenes in your game, Reader?
(Let me know how it goes if you do!)

Previous volumes:
Volume 1

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